Costa Blanca is in the province of Alicante. It consists of around 200 km of Mediterranean coastline though its borders aren’t strictly defined. To the north it includes the popular resorts of Gandia, Javea and Denia and to the south it extends to the rather ugly development of Torrevieja. Around here marks the beginning of the Costa Calida. A number of other smallish resorts such as Moraira, Altea and Calpe are particularly popular with Spanish tourists. In contrast the high rise resort of Benidorm is one of the world’s most popular package holiday destinations.
The weather on the Costa Blanca is what you’d expect from a popular Mediterranean holiday resort with lots of sun and little rain. It has been quoted by the World Health Organisation as being one of the healthiest climates in the world with more than 300 days of sunshine per year.
Getting to the Costa Blanca
Most of the 10 million annual visitors to the Costa Blanca arrive via Alicante Airport which lies 9km southwest of the city of Alicante. The airport is well served by budget airlines from the UK and there are also many arrivals from Germany and Holland. Routes are constantly subject to change and some airlines put on extra flights and fly from more airports during the summer months. Benidorm is the main resort of the region which lies about 60km along the coast from the airport. This journey usually takes about 45 minutes by road but can vary depending on traffic conditions.
Alicante Airport Transfers
The main ways to transfer from the airport to Benidorm or any other resorts along the Costa Blanca are as follows:
Airport Taxis: As you’d expect from an international airport there are many taxis waiting just outside the arrivals area. This isn’t often the most economical way of travelling to your destination as taxi fares are almost invariably higher than rates charged by private shuttle operators.
Shuttle Bus Transfers: The most convenient and best value way to get from the airport to your destination is by pre-booking a shared shuttle transfer. These services run back and to between the airport and the main resorts all day long. A vehicle and driver will be waiting for you on arrival. You’ll get great deals on this route with local operator Shuttledirect who offer an efficient and reliable service at very reasonable prices. This company also provide private transfers if you don’t mind paying the higher rate to avoid having to share your transfer with other people who have just arrived.
Airport Buses: There are public buses from outside the arrivals area which run into Alicante city every hour for connections all along the coast. There are stops in Alicante at the central bus station and at the Alicante-Luceros tram station at Puerta del Mar. There’s also an Airport to Benidorm Bus which leaves from the same place every hour on the hour from 8am to 5pm. Just look for the “Benidorm Bus” sign as you walk out of arrivals.
Car Rental at Alicante Airport: Car hire at Alicante Airport is big business with all the major operators represented in the arrivals hall. Renting a car not only provides you with your transport to and from your destination but also gives you the freedom of having your own vehicle during your holiday. Even if you don’t take any major day trips with your hire car it’s often worth having just to get your family out to the theme parks which lie on the outskirts of Benidorm rather than relying on local buses. It’s even handy for simply driving to the local supermarket to pick up heavy bottles of water and cases of San Miguel 🙂
Where to Stay on the Costa Blanca
Altea – Lying just north of Benidorm, Altea is one of the prettiest towns on the Costa Blanca. It has a stylish marina and lively promenade as well as some beautiful places to stay.
Benidorm – Until the 1960s Benidorm was a sleepy fishing village yet today it is Europe’s largest holiday resort which attracts around 5 million annual visitors.
Calpe – Dominated by the huge rock called the Peñon de Ifach, Calpe is probably the most built up resort on the Costa Blanca other than Benidorm. It has some Roman ruins and salt flats that attract a wide range of birds.
Denia – Denia is an attractive resort with a fascinating old town which is located between Gandia and Javea on the northern Costa Blanca. Just outside the town it has a long, golden sandy beach which is remarkably underdeveloped. Regular ferry services connect Denia with Ibiza in around 2½ hours.
Gandia – Gandia is the most northerly resort on the Costa Blanca. It caters for predominantly Spanish tourists but the beaches are fantastic and well worth a visit.
Javea – Javea is one of the most popular resorts of the Costa Blanca. It has an interesting old town, a busy marina area and the lovely, sandy beach of El Arenal. If you visit in summer look out for the Javea Festivals.
Moraira – Moraira is a real jewel of the Costa Blanca. Located just south of Javea it has stylish cafes and restaurants and a small, sandy beach just next to its very small “castle”.
Costa Blanca Holiday Rentals
As you travel along the Costa Blanca you’ll come across quite a selection of holiday resorts each with their own particular flavour. Whilst Benidorm is Europe’s biggest resort with over 5 million annual visitors there are some quite contrasting destinations which are conducive to more laid back holidays.
Many visitors to Benidorm prefer to book package deals but there are some lovely places along the coast where you can find a fine selection of villas and apartments to rent. In the very north of the Costa Blanca you’ll find a fine selection of holiday rental options in the pretty resorts of Gandia, Javea and Denia. For really relaxing destinations with private accommodation available it’s worth looking at the smaller resorts of Moraira, Altea and Calpe further south.
Getting Around the Costa Blanca
Costa Blanca Boat Trips
It is possible to take boat trips from many of the resorts on the Costa Blanca. You can take a “mini cruise” between the harbours of Denia, Javea, Calpe and Altea either for the pleasure of being on a boat or to avoid the traffic on the roads between these resorts which can be fairly heavy in the summer months.
The view of the Costa Blanca from the sea is spectacular and gives you a different perspective than being on land, especially of the church at the top of the hill in Altea, the castle in Denia, the Peñon de Ifach (large Gibraltaresque rock) in Calpe and the Parador in Javea.
You can also take a sailing trip along the coast on a catamaran viewing the rugged landscape of the Costa Blanca and have time for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing along the way. There are trips to watch the sunset from the sea, beach party cruises and trips in glass bottom boats.
Costa Blanca by Tram
There’s a narrow gauge rail network which runs along the Costa Blanca from Alicante to Denia It is officially known as the FGV (Ferrocarril de la Generalitat Valenciana). There are stops at Terra Mitica in Benidorm, Altea, Calpe and Teulada (near Moraira) along the way. It also stops at many other stations meaning that it takes quite a long time to cover the route. There are trains departing from Alicante-Luceros station every hour. It’s probably not the best method of travelling the whole way from Alicante to Denia but it could be used between Benidorm and Denia or any of the stations in between as a short excursion. For more information and an up to date timetable and prices take a look at the TRAM website.
Things to Do on the Costa Blanca
Benidorm is by far the biggest resort on the Costa Blanca which attracts visitors of all ages. The resort boasts three blue flag beaches, lively nightlife to suit everyone and some very good restaurants. On the outskirts of town are some world class Benidorm theme parks which can easily be reached from the ‘Autopista AP-7’ which runs the full length of the Costa Blanca.
There are Costa Blanca Markets which take place on different days along the coast and from most resorts you’ll be able to book boat trips that take you along the Costa Blanca. Another novelty is to take a trip on the tram which runs up and down the coast between Alicante and Denia with many stops in between.
If you have a rental car and fancy escaping from the beach for a day then there’s a treat waiting for you in the beautiful countryside inland from the Costa Blanca. Here you’ll find one of Spain’s great undiscovered gems which is growing in popularity with walkers, cyclists, birdwatchers and nature lovers in general. In the off season it’s well worth stopping off at the lovely town of Guadalest though the place is overrun with tourists during the peak season. A lovely spot for lunch is at one of the seafront restaurants in the quaint fishing community of Villajoyosa just south of Benidorm.